12 June 2014
Thank You Remarks
Upon Conferral of the A Life for Faith Award
Ladies and gentlemen,
It is a great honor to be here.
I will do my best to speak to you in Italian, so please bear with me.
I am humbled to receive this recognition.
I would like to share this award with all of those in Brazil, FAO, and throughout the world that are part of the efforts to fight hunger
In Brazil, I had the opportunity to be part of an effort that is winning the war against hunger thanks to a comprehensive effort that began in 2003 with the Programa Fome Zero – the Zero Hunger program - implemented during the government of then President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva.
The Zero Hunger was a comprehensive food security program that introduced a new development model centered on hunger eradication and social inclusion, linking macro-economic, social and productive policies.
The results are visible. Between 2002 and 2012, the proportion of people living in extreme poverty as measured by the World Bank (less than US$ 1.25 per day) in Brazil fell from around 11 percent to 3.5 percent.
And between 2002-2002 and 2011-2013, the undernourishment rates in Brazil fell from 15 percent to less than 7 percent.
The success of the Zero Hunger Program has led the country to set a still more ambitious goal in the ‘Programa Brasil Sem Miséria’: end extreme poverty in the country.
It is also inspiring other countries to adopt the zero hunger goal themselves.
It was also the force behind the Zero Hunger Challenge launched by the United Nations Secretary-General and that will be the UN theme at next year’s Expo Milano 2015.
More than simple commitment from countries, we are seeing concrete action and results.
FAO is proud to be part of these efforts, helping countries design their food security strategies, mobilizing funds and supporting their implementation.
Around 60 developing countries already reached the First Millennium Development Goal hunger target of reducing by half the proportion of undernourishment.
While these national experiences may share similarities, all of them are unique.
We should learn from them, and adapt what might be useful. But each country needs to find its own answers.
With this in mind, I would like to single out two elements that I consider to be central in the fight against hunger.
First, political commitment at the highest level. And, second, social participation. Nobody can win the war against hunger working alone.
Ladies and gentlemen,
Ending hunger is important for all of us, everywhere.
In our globalized world, we can only have food security in one country if its neighbors are food secure as well.
Hunger or food-related issues are among the main causes of conflict.
And if a person is unable to ensure food security at home, he or she is often driven elsewhere.
Illegal immigration is one of the results of this lack of opportunities. And many times it has a high cost. The tragedy of Lampedusa is still fresh on our minds.
The humanitarian efforts of the Lampedusa community and Mayor Giusi Nicolini were awarded last year by the Life for Faith Foundation.
I would like to join this recognition and donate the monetary prize that I am receiving today to support the efforts by the Lampedusa community.
The war against hunger is the war that we should fight together.
This is what motivated my work in Brazil. This is what brought me to FAO. And this is what brings me here today.
In the same way that Pope Francis, the President of Israel, Shimon Peres, and the President of Palestine, Mahmoud Abbas, came together in a prayer for peace, we need to come together to fight hunger.
Freedom from hunger is the olive tree that we need to plant to reach the sustainable future we all want.
Thank you for your attention.